Your church library can become big business. More of your people can read more of your books for more help in their interests and problems. How? Bring books to the people instead of people to the books. Getting the two together is the special job of departmental church libraries.
These libraries are really samples of the main church library. Carefully selected for a particular group of persons, these miniature libraries of a dozen or so books supply Christian and church-related materials often unavailable in public libraries and often unknown to church members. Departmental libraries are traveling salesmen of the church’s ministry through reading.
While the mechanics of this books-to-people program are simple, they presuppose good planning. In the first place, determine what groups could benefit from having their own branch libraries. Juniors? Youth? Young adults? Senior adults? There may be two, three, or at present only one. Your church school workers are perhaps best qualified to know. Second, designate what organizations, such as young people’s societies, missionary circles, men’s brotherhoods, and so on, logically incorporate these selected groups. The Junior-High library, as an illustration, would issue books particularly for this group in the church school classes, Sunday evening groups, and week-day clubs. Such coordination for a departmental library has side benefits, too. An alert leader soon discovers, for example, who attends club activities but not Sunday school, and vice versa. Third, establish the branch libraries in easily accessible quarters. The main assembly rooms of the Sunday school departments or adults’ regular meeting places usually offer sufficient space in attractive, familiar surroundings.
Obviously, the personnel in this program is very important. The main librarian, of course, alone or with a committee keeps an efficient, well-stocked central library and determines what books shall remain there for general circulation. She recommends which present book holdings and what new purchases are suitable for the departmental libraries. She recognizes that as additional books are requested by and supplied to the branch libraries, the total library service will increase both in quality and in volume.
Departmental librarians, well-briefed by the main librarian on circulation techniques and library policy, are preferably teachers or assistants in the various church school departments. Better than anyone they know “what’s going on” in their groups. More than anyone they’ve probably said, “I wish I had a good book for Johnny on the social code,” or “Isn’t there something for Mrs. Jones on how to tell her children about death?” Through judicious direction of materials these workers reinforce their Sunday school teaching and that of the church as a whole. Too, they often gain a personal, strategic relationship with individuals and families that even the minister may lack.
Departmental librarians help choose and vary book selections for their groups. They may recommend the purchase of new materials. Periodically they report and analyze circulation. They play a part, too, in encouraging persons in their groups to share in shelving books, filing cards, making displays, or even giving book reports. The greater the division of responsibility in the program, the more enthusiastic and contagious will be the use of the branch libraries and of the central library as well.
With sites determined and bookshelves provided, materials for the branch libraries, after some preliminary processing, are transferred from the main church library. The librarian or some competent committee has already decided which books shall remain in the central library. In all other books paste a card pocket in the front to match that in the back. For this front pocket make a file card with book title, author’s name, accession and call numbers to duplicate the card in the back pocket. In other words, all books circulating into the branch libraries have two card pockets and two file cards. Whenever a book goes to a branch library, the head librarian removes one of the file cards, records the name of the branch library to which it is issued, and the date of transfer. When a book is checked out in the branch library, the borrower’s name and the book’s due date are recorded on the second file card which is then kept by the branch librarian. The main librarian therefore knows which branch library has a given book; the branch librarian knows who is using the book and when it is due. To recall a book for loan to another person or even to another branch library becomes an easy matter.
Essential to the program’s success is good publicity. Regular announcements in departmental groups, perhaps with reference to specific book titles, are assumed. Bulletin boards, posters, and library displays in various church locations give many others a visual impact of the nature and the value of the expanded library service. At regular intervals church bulletin inserts reach even more people and accomplish several things: circulation statistics indicate growing activity; lists of recent book acquisitions or an occasional well-written book review may bring new library inquirers; opportunity to contribute specific titles enlarges the circle of supporters. Here and there brief oral reports of visits by church leaders to the libraries and timely comments by the minister give a stamp of official approval and encouragement.
The primary purpose of this program, of course, is not to promote a specific activity for activity’s sake, but rather to demonstrate through that activity the Gospel’s relevance for all areas of life. Without the church’s original historic sponsorship of the Book and books we might still be grossly illiterate. Today’s problem, at least in most of America, is not lack of hooks or of learning. Rather it is one of selective and pertinent reading. Departmental church libraries specialize in selective, pertinent books for special people with special interests and needs. Try them to step up your circulation!
CHRISTIANITY TODAYoffers the following list of departmental titles recommended by Miss Lois E. LeBar, Professor of Christian Education at Wheaton College.
DEJONG, MEINDERT, The Mighty Ones: Great Men and Women of Early Bible Days. Harper, 1959, 282 pages, $3.50.
EISENBERG, AZRIEL, The Great Discovery. Abelard-Schuman, 1956, 112 pages, $2.50.
HASKIN, DOROTHY C., Brave Boys and Girls of Long Ago. Baker, 1958, 61 pages, $1.50.
JOHNSTON, DOROTHY GRUNBOCIC, Cathy and Carl of the Covered Wagon (series). Scripture Press, 1954, 104 pages, $1.50.
LUDWIG, CHARLES, Chuma (series). Scripture Press, 1954, 72 pages, $1.25.
MASSEY, CRAIG, Twig, the Collie. Zondervan, 1958, 121 pages, $2.
The Old Testament, illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli. Doubleday, 1959, pages unnumbered, $6.95.
PEARCE, WINIFRED M., John Paton (missionary series). Zondervan, 1954, 96 pages, $1.
SOMMERLAD, PATRICIA J., My King and I: Devotions for Junior Youth. Moody, 1959, 128 pages, $2.25.
ST. JOHN, PATRICIA M., The Tanglewood’s Secret. Moody, 1951, 250 pages, $1.50.
Vos, CATHERINE F., The Child’s Story Bible. Eerdmans, 1935, 732 pages, $4.50.
WHITE, PAUL, Jungle Doctor (series). Eerdmans, 1959, 118 pages, $1.50.
ADOLPH, PAUL E., Triumphant Living. Moody, 1959, 127 pages, $2.50.
AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC AFFILIATION, Modern Science and Christian Faith. Scripture Press, 1948, 316 pages, $4.50.
CODER, S. MAXWELL, God’s Will for Your Life. Moody, 1946, 123 pages, $.39.
ELLIOT, ELISABETH, Through Gates of Splendor. Harper, 1957, 256 pages. $3.75.
HENRY, CARL F. H., ed., Revelation and the Bible. Baker, 1958, 413 pages, $6.
LEWIS, C. S., Mere Christianity. Macmillan, 1943, 175 pages, $2.75.
PIKE, JAMES A., If You Marry Outside Your Faith. Harper, 1954, 191 pages, $2.50.
RAMM, BERNARD, The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Eerdmans, 1954, 367 pages, $4.
RINKER, ROSALIND, Prayer: Conversing with God. Zondervan, 1959, 117 pages, $2.
SMALL, DWIGHT, Design for Christian Marriage. Revell, 1959, 221 pages, $3.50.
TAYLOR, DR. and MRS. HOWARD H., Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. China Inland Mission, 1932, 178 pages, $1.
TOURNIER, PAUL, The Meaning of Persons. Harper, 1957, 238 pages, $3.75.
CARNELL, EDWARD JOHN, The Kingdom of Love and the Pride of Life. Eerdmans, 1960, 164 pages, $3.50.
DUFF, ANNIS, Bequest of Wings. Viking, 1944, 214 pages, $2.50.
EAVEY, C. B., Principles of Mental Health for Christian Living. Moody, 1956, 326 pages, $4.
HUTCHINSON, ELIOT D., How to Think Creatively. Abingdon, 1949, 233 pages, $2.75.
LITTLE, SARA, Learning Together in the Christian Fellowship. John Knox, 1956, 104 pages, $1.25.
MAVES, PAUL B., Understanding Ourselves as Adults. Abingdon, 1959, 217 pages, $2.
NEE, WATCHMAN, The Normal Christian Life. Christian Literature Crusade, 1958, 275 pages, $2.
OVERTON, GRACE S., Living with Teeners. Broadman, 1950, 85 pages, $1.25.
SHAW, DOREEN and JOHNSON, MARTHA, Your Children. Moody Pocket Book, 1957, 192 pages, $.50.
SWEAZEY, GEORGE E., Effective Evangelism. Harper, 1953, 284 pages, $3.50.
WHYTE, WILLIAM H., JR., The Organization Man. Doubleday Anchor, 1956, 471 pages, $1.45.
BOUCHERON, PIERRE, How to Enjoy Life after Sixty. Denis Archer, 1959, 224 pages, $3.95.
CARMICHAEL, AMY, Gold by Moonlight. S.P.C.K., 1935, 182 pages, $3.
COWMAN, MRS. CHARLES E., Traveling Toward Sunrise. Cowman Publications, 1952, 254 pages, $2.50.
DOBBINS, GAINES S., The Years Ahead. Broadman, 1959, 144 pages, $.75.
GLEASON, GEORGE, Horizons for Older People. Macmillan, 1956, 137 pages, $2.95.
HULME, WILLIAM E., Counseling and Theology. Muhlenberg, 1956, 250 pages, $3.75.
LEWIS, C. S., The Problem of Pain. Macmillan, 1959, 148 pages, $3.50.
NILSEN, MARIA, Malla Moe. Moody, 1956, 253 pages, $3.
REDPATH, ALAN, Victorious Praying. Revell, 1957, 151 pages, $2.
TOZER, A. W., Born After Midnight. Christian Publications, 1959, 142 pages, $2.75.
WHEELER, W. REGINALD, A Man Sent from God: Robert E. Speer. Revell, 1956, 333 pages, $3.95.
WHITE, ERNEST, The Way of Release: For Souls in Conflict. Christian Literature Crusade, 1947, 95 pages, $1.95.
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